Friday, April 29, 2011

LADY OF THE ROSES by Sandra Worth: Review

Since it's currently 3:00 AM, and I cannot see sleep coming in the near future, I thought I'd spend my sleeplessness productively and write a review!

I recently finished LADY OF THE ROSES by Sandra Worth. It was another book from my favorite genre, historical fiction. This book takes place during the War of the Roses, also known as The Cousin's War, during the pre-Tudor times.

Isobel Ingolsthorpe becomes a ward of Marguerite of Anjou, wife to King Henry VI of England, after her parents die. This was a dangerous time in England, because no one is sure of which branch of the family to be backing up, either the Yorks or the Lancasters. Both families have legitimate claims to the throne, and since King Henry VI has fits of madness and he's a Lancaster, the Yorks are reaffirmed in their beliefs that the crown is rightfully theirs. Isobel comes from a family of staunch Lancastrians, and Marguerite of Anjou, being married to a Lancastrian King, is obviously fighting for her right as Queen and her son's right as future King of England. The two factions continue to squabble, and it eventually leads to war.
Before the war begins ripping the country apart, Isobel is introduced to John Neville, a young knight who of course is a Yorkist, and is the Earl of Warwick's (The Kingmaker) younger brother. Like a fairy tale, it is love at first sight for both of them, even though Isobel is aware that Queen Marguerite will not approve of the match. Isobel's Lancastrian uncle helps to convince the Queen of John Neville's noble qualities, and with that recommendation, along with a hefty bride price, Isobel weds John. They have a happy marriage that produces five children.
Shortly after wedding John his brother, the Earl of Warwick, helps Edward IV to win the throne from King Henry VI and Marguerite of Anjou. However, after all the work the Earl of Warwick puts into helping Edward IV claim the throne, Edward IV acts ungrateful, according to Warwick, because he does not go along with what Warick wants him to do, and how he wants him to rule the country. Warwick becomes disenchanted with the idea of a King who he can't control at all, so he decides to rise up against Edward IV, and attempt to put Edward's treasonous brother, George the Duke of Clarence, on the throne of England. Things don't go as planned, and after several failed attempts Warwick commits the unforgivable act of treason when he teams up with Marguerite of Anjou in order to take the throne back for Henry VI (who Warwick had originally helped take the throne from!)
Anyways, John doesn't agree 100% with his older brother Warwick, but in the end he cannot fight against his brother and joins forces with him, and he ends up dying during battle. Not long after Isobel dies of a weak heart.

I really did like this novel, and it was an easy read, but there were a couple of things that annoyed me. The main thing that bothered me was how Sandra Worth portrays Elizabeth Woodville (Edward IV's wife). I get that she wasn't the sweetest, most wonderful woman of her time, but in this novel she is described as being completely evil. The blame for the Earl of Warwick eventually turning against Edward IV is pretty much put on her shoulders, because of the influences that she and her large family had on the kingdom. Her family was raised high during Edwards reign, like the families of most royalty, but Worth makes them all sound as if they were inept at their duties, and all around horrible people. I've read several books, both fiction and nonfiction, on this time period, and the Woodville's may have been raised high quickly, but they all seemed to be more than capable of doing the jobs that they were given. I do believe that Elizabeth Woodville was ambitious, but in a time where she didn't know from day to day whether or not her husband would still be King or her sons future Kings, she probably did come across as grasping at times. Who could blame her when her husband's crown was not secure, and many viewed him as the usurper.

The second thing that bothered me, just a little bit, were the mushy, gushy descriptions about how much John and Isobel loved each other. They would go on and on about how in love they were, and blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I get it, it's a love story, but geez, after awhile it just became redundant. I love a good love story as much as the next person, but I ended up skipping over some of the mushy conversations between the two of them.

I just made it seem like I hated the book, but that's definitely not true! I loved reading about The War of Roses from a completely different perspective. I didn't even know that the Earl of Warwick had a younger brother, and Warwick has been in a ton of the books that I have read!  I loved Isobel's character. She was young and innocent, but her intelligence gave her character depth. It was interesting to read a novel where the Earl of Warwick isn't shown to be an absolutely horrible human being. In this novel he's shown to be human, and it makes the reader think that he may have good reason for regretting putting Edward IV on the throne. John Neville is also a likable character. He's noble and loyal, as well as a worthy knight. He follows his heart, and makes decisions that he can live with, rather than decisions that he will regret his entire life.

Historically there is little known of either Isobel or John, so Sandra Worth was able to use a lot of creative license throughout novel, which I think worked out great. As a reader, you can actually see things really happening as they were described in this novel, and you are able to see the motivations behind the actions that these great people made that changed history forever. I would definitely recommend it to a reader of historical fiction, even if you have to skip the mushy parts!

On a scale of 1-5 I'd give it 3.5.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The TO BE READ Pile Continues to GROW!

I am so excited to have began recently to receive submissions from authors who want me to read and review their books! This is all new to me, but I'm loving it! Now that I have my Kindle, it makes it that much easier to download author's e-books right to me.

The four books that I have received are:

THE BONUS by Georgia Lowe:

Georgia Lowe’sThe Bonus, is a work of historical fiction, which offers an eye-opening glimpse into the little known series of events involving the Bonus Army, a collection of World War I veterans, who came from all across the country to gather before Congress and demand the wartime service bonuses that they had been promised years before. This story of systemic neglect of veterans, hard economic times, environmental disaster and the consequences of a failed presidency, is more relevant than ever.
The Bonus recalls the story of Will Hardy, a reporter with recurring shellshock, who arrives with the Los Angeles contingent of the Bonus Army.  In the grip of the Great Depression of 1932, fueled by unemployment, hunger and homelessness, 22,000 defiant veterans settle before Congress vowing to stay until 1945 if necessary, until they are given their service bonuses. 

Georgia Lowe grew up around LA and Hollywood with Bonus Marcher parents in an environment where veteran issues were a part of everyday family conversation. She spent ten years researching for this book, with multiple trips to Washington and the Library of Congress.  She currently lives in a small community on the Eastern slope of the California Sierra where she is hard at work on both a prequel and a sequel to The Bonus.


Amanda is fourteen when her mother deserts her to be with a new man. Hurt and betrayed, Amanda loses faith in the world. To soothe her pain, she retreats into fly fishing, until she learns that her loving grandmother has terminal cancer.
Amanda struggles to find answers. Then one day she discovers that her grandmother, against the doctor’s orders, has gone fishing somewhere on the Junction River. Frightened, Amanda, along with Shana, her adopted dog, and Vernon, a grieving alcoholic, searches the river—but marches into an unexpected, terrifying event that, in a surprising way, helps her learn to forgive and to see the good in the world.


It was only a nightmare at first, but Damont soon realizes that he can see into the future-a curse he has to live with for being the only son of a king dead for a thousand years, with a mother who is the goddess of time.

A man in black armor with a face as obscure as the shadows mantling him laughs wickedly. Who is he and why does he continue to haunt me, Damont wonders. Appearing only in his dreams, the man in the black armor stands alone and laughs high as if to mock him while the world around him burns to cinder. "They are not dreams, my son," a voice calls out to him in a vision after the many nightmares-claiming to be his mother whom abandoned him when he was but a child. "They are shards of a broken world to come if you so take the path of your father." If such a path does lie ahead beyond a throne that sits vacant for centuries, with an empire in the east growling for war, then Damont Langörn realizes he has but one choice: follow the visions and seek out the truth lost to both him and the world behind his lineage-but will he be strong enough to face such a malevolent foe of his nightmares?

With a vampire and a sorceress at his side, Damont begins his journey, but such a road is not an easy one to take if the gods themselves do not wish for his return as the king who would unite the world against their existence and bring demise to their very doorstep.


Spencer Wedgeworth, a rising young star in an elite law firm, fears that he is being drawn into an international crime ring headed by his superiors at the firm, including some rather flashy and violent women. Aided by a quirky paralegal planted to spy on him and with whom he falls madly in love, Spencer uncovers the real truth about the contraband that he has been spiriting around the globe, a truth far more terrible than anything he could have imagined. But when his friend and long time mentor betrays him, Spencer flees to Bolivia where he has it out with the mob bosses in a wild brawl instigated by his girlfriend. Will Spencer survive to see justice done, or will he become just another in a long line of unfortunate victims in a violent, no-holds barred game of espionage and murder.

I am looking forward to spending some quality time with my Kindle, and reading these books. I will endeavor to read them in a timely manner, but at the time I have three jobs, and if you count this as a job, well then I have four! However, I definitely don't count this as a job, because I absolutely LOVE to read! I hope the submissions keep coming in, because it helps me to step outside the box a little bit, and read books other than historical fiction. Also, it is introducing me to some amazing authors, and I can't wait to share my thoughts on any new book that might be submitted to me, and of course I will be an honest and objective reader!

Now, enough rambling, time to get reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leslie Carrol Review: Royal Pains, Notorious Royal Marriages, and Royal Affairs

Ok, I know it's been awhile since I've updated, but I was finishing up three books. ROYAL AFFAIRS, NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES, and ROYAL PAINS all by Leslie Carroll. I figured that since they were all by the same author, I might as well do a review of all of them together.

I finished all three books in a week, so I think that shows just how awesome they were! Carroll has a way of making non-fiction extremely entertaining! I learned so much about different members of royalty, without even realizing I was learning! Her books read like a scandalous magazine. I enjoyed ROYAL PAINS the most, because of the scandals that she wrote about that were absolutely nuts! It seems that all royals were either married to a cousin, insane, riddled with venereal disease, or murderers! I literally could not put the book down! The only complaint that I have is that ROYAL MARRIAGES and ROYAL AFFAIRS have several repeats on the royals. There were several stories in both books that were exactly the same, so I would just skip over them.
I definitely recommend any one of these books to those who are interested in historical fiction. There was so much information given, information that the royal families kept hidden for years. The royal families were always held above the "normal" person, but these books certainly bring them down to earth, and show how many faults they really had. It was fascinating to get an inside view of what really was going on within the royal family, even though it was at times completely shocking.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I got a KINDLE!

My 30th birthday was on feels kind of weird, but I'll get used to it. I keep saying that my 30's HAVE to be better than my 20's!
Anyways, my parents gave me the Kindle 3G. It's really great so far! I still have a ton of paperbacks to read, but I've downloaded a couple free books to the kindle, and bought one cheap book. It's so weird to read from anything but a book, but I can get used to it. It's easy to read, and it's a heck of a lot quicker to order a book to your kindle than it is to order it to your house! I'm sure I won't be able to give up paperbooks completely, but I will definitely be making the most of my kindle!
I recently read Royal Pains by Leslie Carroll, and I'll be reviewing it soon. I'm subbing today, so I can't really concentrate very well. Subbing in Home-Ec at that, kids never take Home-Ec seriously!

Friday, April 15, 2011

ENEMY WOMEN by Paulette Jiles: Review

This was the first book written about the Civil War period that I have read in a couple of years. I flew through the book,  because it was exciting and interesting, only to be disappointed for days by the way it ended, or as I thought, didn't end!

Adair Colley is a young woman living in the near Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Her family is left alone until near the end of the Civil War, because her father decides to stay neutral. Things change when the Union Militia comes to their house and takes her father, and also burns down their house. Adair and her two sisters head out to find out where their father was taken and why. Their brother, who has a crippled arm, joins the Confederate Militia in retaliation. Once Adair and her two sisters arrive at their destination, and go in to ask questions regarding their father, Adair ends up being arrested as a Confederate spy. She had rubbed a family the wrong way on their journey to find her father, and they had also watched her talking to her brother, who was in a confederate like uniform (butternut homespun by that time!) Anyways, this family told the Union officials that she was a spy, and they arrested her and took her to prison in St. Louis. During her time in prison she meets a Union Major, William Neuman. He hates his job, which is to interrogate women to find out if they are spies, and has requested a reassignation to a different unit. Before his change of orders goes through, he tries to convince Adair to admit to some form of spying, so that he can get things over with and set her free. She ends up writing stories about her family and town rather than admitting to any form of spying. He begins to fall in love with her, because of her strong personality and beautiful looks, and she reciprocates his feelings. About the time they realize their mutual feelings for each other, his orders for a change of duty go through, and he is to head South for more fighting. He promises to find her after the war, gives her money, and tells her how to escape. During all of her time in prison, Adair has developed consumption, so her health is not great, but she decides that it's time to make her escape and she does so. She travels South to her home, hoping that after the war her family will all end up back there. Major Neuman ends up in a battle in the South where he is wounded, and is supposed to have his arm amputated, but chooses not to, and instead makes his way to Adair's family home. After a long and hard journey for Adair, she makes her way home, only to find that her home and land has been sold and that her family is not there. She ends up hanging around her old home for awhile, trying to figure out her next move, and all of a sudden she sees Major Neuman nearing the house calling for her. She waits a minute and then gets up to walk toward him. Then it ENDS!

I loved the book, until the end. When the book ended I wanted to throw it against a wall. I was so angry at the NON ending of the book! I'm horrible. I sped through the book, barely putting it down because I wanted so badly for Adair and William to be reunited at the end and for their to be some type of closure. Well, Adair dying of consumption and William most likely dying of a gangrenous arm, was NOT the ending I wanted! I suppose I should be happy that they were reunited at all, even if they were both headed towards death. But, the romantic in me wanted to know what was going to happen with them! Were they going to get married? Were they going to move to Texas and make a home like they planned? Or, were they going to die in each other's arms? I just hate when novels end like that. I want a novel to END, not just kinda end. I hate when I'm really into a novel, and really become attached to the characters, only to be left hanging by not knowing what happened! Even if Jiles had Adair and William embrace at the end, or speak to each other at the end I would have been happy.

It WAS a great book, don't get me wrong. I really had trouble putting it down. I just felt so let down and lost by the way it ended. I have this problem with a lot of books though. When it ends, and I've become attached to the characters, I really want to know how their future turns out. Maybe that's why I stick to historical fiction. In stories about Kings and Queen's, I know how the story ends, so I'm not disappointed when my favorite character gets beheaded or something?

I definitely do recommend the book, because the whole way to the end was full of excitement and adventure. I read it every chance I had, and learned a lot about what was going on in South East Missouri during the Civil War. It also reacquainted me with Civil War fiction, so I can definitely see myself reading more in the near future.

(Excuse any misspellings or typos, I wrote this while substituting! I'll proofread it later!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

TO BE QUEEN by Christy English: REVIEW

This is the second novel that I have read by Christy English, and I can honestly say I was even more into this one than I was THE QUEEN'S PAWN. It took me around four days to finish, and if I hadn't been working at Applebee's so much, I would have finished in two! I loved it!

I was completely drawn into the book by the end of the first chapter. As a reader you are able to glimpse into Eleanor's childhood, and learn where her inner strength came from. She was left without her father or mother, and was still able to bargain for a marriage to the future King of France, Louis VII. She moves on to the Parisian Court, and when her father-in-law dies she becomes Queen of France along with Louis. Their marriage starts out with great hope, but Eleanor soon begins to see that Louis is much too pious for their marriage to ever be a love match. She is disappointed, but she is also strong. I actually felt sad for Louis at points in the novel, because he loves Eleanor so much, but he sees that great love as a sin, so he is unable to consummate their marriage on a regular basis, which after eight  years of marriage leads only to one daughter. Eleanor is faithful to Louis for years, even though there is barely any physical relationship between them. They go on a crusade shortly after their daughter is born, and Louis wants to make it to Jeruselum to pray for a son. During this crusade King Louis' troops are slaughtered when they are taken from behind by the Emperor Manuel of Constantinople's men. Eleanor had gone ahead with her men, so she escaped the attack as did her people. Of course the blame of the slaughter falls on Eleanor's shoulders, because the Parisians despised her already. While the battle was raging Eleanor gets her first taste of true physical pleasure in a very hot, but tasteful love scene between her and her countryman, Baron Rancon. Now that Eleanor has tasted true pleasure, she knows her marriage to Louis is over, and it is just a matter of paying the Pope enough to get the annullment or divorce. The crusade goes on, but they are no longer looking for a war, they are basically on a pilgrimage. They end up at her Uncle Raymond's Kingdom of Antioch, and there is an immediate connection between the two of the, and they eventually consummate their relationship, and she knows the feeling of 'true love.' Of course, they are both married, so there is nothing to do but move on, and he stays in her heart, until later in the novel when she learns of his death and is devestated. By this time they are settled back in the Parisian Court, and she has her first meeting with Henry of Anjou, the future King Henry II, and her future husband. There is an immediate attraction, and Eleanor succombs to his love, and believes he is the perfect match for her because he is the opposite of King Louis. Henry and Eleanor make many promises, and when he leaves to go to win the Kingdom of England back from the usurper, the reader is left with so much hope for their love.

Of course, we all know how Henry and Eleanor end up, but it's nice to believe for a minute that their love lasts a lifetime, and that there is no Rosamund, and that Henry is a fair father, and doesn't hold all power from his sons, but it's not to be.

I was completely drawn to Eleanor. I loved the tone of the novel and Eleanor's voice. Christy English was able to bring Eleanor of Aquitaine to life for me, and it was fascinating to get lost in her world for awhile. As a reader you can truly see how strong Eleanor was mentally and emotionally. She needs only to raise her hand to command the people around her, and she may have had many enemies, but they knew better than to go against her openly, because not only was she powerful, but she also had the love of the King of France.

Once Eleanor's annullment goes through, there is so  much hope for her future. She plans to rule Aquitaine in her own right, and to live her life as a free Duchess. The passionate love she feels for Henry of Anjou during their brief encounter completely changes the path she thought her life would take.

I would recommend both TO BE QUEEN and THE QUEEN'S PAWN to any lover of historical fiction or any lover of reading in general. Eleanor is such a fascinating figure in history to read about, and Christy English knows her facts, and is able to turn historical facts about this time period, into a beautiful and exciting story about Eleanor of Aquitaine's early life.

Of course I suggest you read her first novel (THE QUEEN'S PAWN) as well, because you can't just read about half of her life, as her entire life is full of excitement, intrigue, and of course, scandal. Both books will most definitely become a part of my permanent library collection!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Ok, so I know this is a day late, but I was busy all day yesterday. Anyways, the winner is.... ~enamored soul~ !
Congratulations on winning THE LAST WIFE OF HENRY VIII!!
I was pleasantly surprised at how many people actually entered the giveaway, so I will definitely be doing more in the future!
Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway, and good luck in my future giveaways!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finished on Friday & Starting Fresh

I just finished the novel TO BE QUEEN by Christy English. I'm subbing for 7th and 8th grade English right now, so I can't do my review at the moment, plus I want to get the notes I took throughout the novel together before I put my thoughts down in here. I will say though, that it is one of the best novel's I've read in a long time. I really liked Alison Weir's CAPTIVE QUEEN, but TO BE QUEEN eclipses it by far. I honestly felt like I was inside Eleanor of Aquitaine's mind during her early reign with Louis of France. Her enemies became my enemies, her loves mine, and her sorrows my sorrows. It was intense. At times I teared up for her pain, or for Louis' inability to get past his religious fervor to love Eleanor both body and soul. There were also times I found myself laughing out loud at Eleanor's witicisms. Of course this was all due to the  imagination and flowing writing style of Christy English, but to me, it could have been an account of exactly what was going through her head during the time she was alive.

Anyways, as I said I will do a full review this weekend.

I started a new novel today. I'm switching it up a little bit. I've read a lot of historical fiction which takes place during the Tudor's time or before, so I've chosen a novel that takes place during the Civil War to read. I just started ENEMY WOMEN by Paulette Jiles. I was once a huge Civil War buff, and read and watched everything I could get my hands on about the Civil War. Then came the Tudors, followed by Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Borgias. So, I feel it's time to give my old favorite historical fiction era a little of my time! Hopefully it will be completely engrossing, so that I can get through it at a decent rate. THE SINS OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA slowed me down, because I had a little trouble getting through it, but I think I made up time with TO BE QUEEN, because I flew through it due to the amazing writing skill of Christy English.

Oh, and I will be choosing a winner for my FIRST book giveaway later on today, so you still have a little time to enter if you have yet to do so!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

ONE more day to enter my FIRST BOOK GIVEAWAY!

That's right! One more day before I choose the winner (via for my first book giveaway, THE LAST WIFE OF HENRY VIII. So, tell your blogger friends or your real life friends, lol, and make sure to sign up! I will announce the winner on my blog tomorrow, and I will also email the winner in order to get their snail mail address.
In other book news, I have about 50 pages left in TO BE QUEEN by Christy English. When I say I can't put the book down, I'm not lying. The only reason I haven't finished yet is because I worked doubles between substitute teaching and serving at applebees all last week. I have a good feeling I'll finish it by tomorrow and get my review up asap. Reading the book honestly takes me back to the time Eleanor of Aquitaine was alive, and put me right inside her head. While reading the book I get completely lost in Eleanor's thoughts and plans. I get anxious when she's anxious, and feel her excitement at times. It's easy to become completely immersed in this novel, so much so that the world around you ceases to exist...and THAT is the type of book I like! So, as soon as I finish it, the review will be up!

OHHH...and P.S. I asked for a KINDLE 4G for my birthday (April 16th I'll be 30!) And as a first time Kindle user, I hope I can figure it all out. I also hope I'm not disappointed with it, and miss my paperback books, but it's the "new" thing, and moving back an forth across the country means losing books along the way and that I cannot do!